Anyone who knows me, knows I’m not a fan of comedies. I can’t explain it. I guess my sense of humour is just too immature to enjoy crafted, planned out comedy. However, I do enjoy ‘amusing’ films. They don’t make me laugh out loud but they make me smile and happy.
With its great characters and amazing zombies, I consider The Return of the Living Dead to be an ‘amusing’ film. This 1985 horror comedy revolves around a bunch of employees at a medical supply warehouse, who accidentally release a poisonous gas that brings back the dead.
They’re fantastic and funny in their own ways. Frank is jolly and very confident but as soon as the zombies appear, he turns into a whimpering coward. Burt is a fearless leader who’s strictly concerned about the company’s reputation and will do anything to get rid of the zombies.
Freddy, a new employee at the warehouse, is the protagonist. He’s essentially an avatar for the audience as he’s not as distinct as Frank and Burt personality wise. Like us, he witnesses and reacts to all the crazy shenanigans.
While the employees try to contain the zombies at the warehouse, we see a subplot focusing on Freddy’s friends waiting for him to finish work. They may not be as likable as Frank or Burt but they’re still funny.
They’re a bunch of reckless, crazy punks, especially Trash. She comes across as very pretentious as she constantly talks about death and ‘society’. However, she’s also very unstable. There’s a really silly scene where she shares her fantasies about dying and then suddenly strips naked and starts dancing. It’s wonderfully barmy.
The characters, with their quirks and chemistry, make the film a funny and joyous watch.
Out of all the zombie films I’ve seen, the zombies in The Return of the Living Dead are probably the most unique, even by today’s standards.
One of the major features that make the zombies different to other film zombies is their indestructibility. All of their body parts are independent, so if you chop off a limb it’ll still come after you. Zombies are decapitated, dismembered and even burned, and yet they continue to attack.
They can also talk. Most of their dialogue consists of them screaming ‘BRAINS!’ However, in a few amusing scenes, they lure cops and paramedics to their den over the phone.
Another unique feature is their look. Not one zombie looks the same. They’re not all grey skinned like in Romero’s films or have red eyes like in the 28 Days series. They all each have their own individual design. One zombie is a rotting skeleton smothered in tar while another is pale-skinned with no arms or legs. They look more like zombies you’d see in a comic or a cartoon rather than in a live-action film, which I think is appropriate as it matches the silly tone.
I love The Return of the Living Dead, with its fantastic characters and incredible zombies. I recommend it for everyone this Halloween, even to those who don’t like horror films, I’m sure this one will get a chuckle out of them.
I give The Return of the Living Dead a gleaming 10 out of 10.